Gerald R. Ford photo

News Conference of the President and President Echeverria of Mexico in Tubac, Arizona

October 21, 1974

PRESIDENT FORD. [1.] It has been a very great privilege and pleasure, Mr. President, to have the opportunity of visiting your country today and to discuss with you a number of very important issues. And let me just emphasize one.

You, of course, are the author and promoter of some very far-reaching action in the United Nations which we believe, as a charter for economic development throughout the world, has very great merit and very great support, and I compliment you for it. And I can assure you that I and Secretary Kissinger will work with you and others in your Government in trying to find the key and the answer to the economic development of all parts of our great globe.

It is nice to have you in the United States, and I thank you for the warm welcome given to me by you as well as all the people of Mexico.

QUESTIONS ACCESS TO MEXICAN OIL [2.] Q. I would like to address a question to both Presidents. Among the issues you discussed today, was there a discussion of American access to the recently discovered oil deposits in southern Mexico, and could you give us an estimate of the size of those deposits?

PRESIDENT ECHEVERRIA.1 Yes. Mexico is selling to whoever wants to buy the oil at the market price in the world market. We sell our surplus oil. I hope that we can drill for more oil in Mexico in order to be able to export a greater amount.

1President Echeverria spoke in Spanish and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

We have sold to the United States, to Uruguay, to Brazil, and to Israel, and we hope to continue to sell without making any differences among the buyers in order to contribute to satisfy the demand.

TRADE REFORM LEGISLATION [3.] Q. I would like to know, President Ford, if, during your talks, there was any mention made of the trade reform act, and if so, what are the repercussions that this will have for Mexico?

PRESIDENT FORD. I am very happy and very pleased that you raised the question. The new trade legislation, which I hope will pass the Congress this year, will significantly increase the trade relations between Mexico and the United States, helping to balance the trade between Mexico and the United States.

This trade legislation which I have worked very hard to promote, which I believe will pass the United States Senate and I believe the Congress, will be very helpful in making good trade relations between the United States and Mexico.

MIGRANT FARMWORKERS [4.] Q. Can you tell us whether any progress has been made on a new approach resolving the question of migrant farmworkers from Mexico and the related questions involved in that?

PRESIDENT ECHEVERRIA. Yes. Yes, we did discuss this point and I brought up in the name of Mexico, I told the President of the United States that we have definitely desisted from our intention of signing an agreement, and this is due to the fact that we made a revision of the previous agreement, and we saw that in practice, in the way it works, it is not good. It gives opposite results from the ones we want.

What happened at that time was that, attracted by this agreement that we had with the United States, the migrant workers, or the would-be migrant workers, would come to the border cities of the United States. And then it happened that they did not receive a contract, and then they stayed at the border city and increased the number of the population or else they went illegally into the United States.

Now, with the policy of self-criticism that at present prevails in Mexico, we have reviewed this matter, and we have come to realize and accept that the responsibility belongs to Mexico.

In Mexico, we need to increase the sources of employment. We need to send more resources out into the countryside. We need to organize the farmers in a better way. We need to keep them within the land. I do not know if President Ford has anything to add, because we analyzed this point jointly.

PRESIDENT FORD. As you can see, we discussed this matter in great depth. It has a long history. It has current problems. In fact, we have some new problems. And in order to get an up-to-date reading on what should be done, how we can best help, we have decided to reanalyze--through a commission that will bring up the data that involves those going from Mexico to the United States and will update data that will involve individuals who are in the United States seeking employment, trying to find the right answer. And this revitalized commission, I think, will give both of us, and our countries, better answers to solve the problem.

PRESIDENT ECHEVEIRRIA. Now, however, there is a point that Mexico insists upon in reference to the migrant workers--whether they are legally in the country or illegally in the country. That is, Mexico insists that they enjoy the rights and prerogatives that is granted by the law to any person.

When a person is contracted legally and comes to work in the United States, this person under contract has certain rights--the right to a decent salary, the right to social security, and that is to say all the rights that are granted by the law. This is when the person comes to work legally.

Now, if the migrant worker comes in illegally, he still has some rights that must be observed--this is basic.

CUBA [5.] Q. I have a question for President Ford. I would like to ask President Ford whether the hemispheric problems were taken up, and if they did take up the hemispheric problems, what is the attitude of the United States with reference to Cuba and if this attitude is to be maintained at the next Conference of Foreign Ministers.

PRESIDENT FORD. We did take up the question of the United States' attitude toward Cuba. I indicated that we had not seen any change in the attitude of Mr. Castro or any of the other individuals in the Cuban Government, and inasmuch as there had been no change, no attitude that was different regarding the United States, it was not expected that our attitude would change toward Cuba.

We did discuss the meeting that is to be held in Quito, I think, on November 7 or 8, where the matter will be brought before the OAS. But our attitude as of the present time is, since no change in the attitude of Cuba, we certainly have to retain our point of view concerning them.

EXTENT OF MEXICAN OIL DEPOSITS [6.] Q. President Echeverria, I wonder if you could answer one part of Mr. Shaw's [Gaylord Shaw, Associated Press] question which was not answered, and that is, can you give us some estimate of the size of the new oil discovery in Mexico?

PRESIDENT ECHEVERRIA. Yes, the discoveries are very important and significant, and the significance we can find in the following figures. Of the 640,000 barrels a day that are obtained throughout all of Mexico, 37 percent--that is 241,000 barrels-come from only a few wells. This has made it possible for us now to begin to export, after having transcended the stage where it was necessary for us to import in order to satisfy our own consumption.

Therefore, this is very important for the Mexican economy, first and foremost, if we take into account the prices that prevail for oil in the world market, prices which we respect.

RESULTS OF MEETING [7.] Q. This is a question for both Presidents. Can you give us a list of the specific agreements that you reached today?

PRESIDENT ECHEVERRIA. Actually, no, we did not come to international agreements. It was the first meeting between the President of the United States and the President of Mexico in order to get together to discuss, to analyze very frankly, very openly, very clearly, very directly, some of the problems that have already been dealt with in this room.

For me, the most important part of our meeting is the way in which President Ford underlined to me personally, and later on here during our meeting in this place, the importance that he gives the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.

And I thank President Ford and the people of the United States for this opinion that has been expressed to me, because actually, this is a complete change from what it was before, and this is very valuable support for this charter that is gaining ground within the United Nations, and for the already 100 and some odd countries that are supporting the charter.

The United States had never before expressed as much interest as it has now in the approval of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States. Of course, it rather matters that we still have to elucidate, that we have to define, but I feel very optimistic that we shall.

REPORTER. Muchas gracias.

Note: The news conference began at 5:10 p.m. at the Tubac Country Club.

Gerald R. Ford, News Conference of the President and President Echeverria of Mexico in Tubac, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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